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Prospect Park looks to future with diversified housing options

The neighborhood is prioritizing affordable housing developments in hopes of attracting residents of varying incomes.
Rendering of Towerside District
Image by Courtesy of Towerside Innovation District

Rendering of Towerside District

Prospect Park groups are looking to diversify neighborhood housing by bringing a slate of affordable options to the area.

The Towerside Innovation District is leading an affordable housing movement to draw residents of varied income levels to the neighborhood. The Prospect Park groups also hope to use the inclusive housing options as an incentive to attract Amazon’s second headquarters to the area.

The TID was established to build on and create inclusive urban and green spaces in the University of Minnesota’s Prospect Park neighborhood.

Stephen Klimek, an Enterprise Rose architectural fellow with The Cornerstone Group that consults for the TID, said new affordable housing will combat a Twin Cities housing shortage.

“It’s really critical to make sure that there’s a diversity of people living in both Towerside and Minneapolis-St. Paul,” Klimek said.

Towerside is addressing the problem by balancing affordable and market-rate housing to give options for those at all income levels, he said.

Another six-story apartment, Green on Fourth, will follow a similar approach when construction finishes in fall 2018.

Aeon, one of Towerside’s community partners, is preparing a site for 70 units of affordable apartment homes in Prospect Park.

Vince Netz, Prospect Park Association representative on the TID board of directors said the neighborhood has enough student and luxury housing options.

“We feel that the market is big enough,” he said.

Towerside wants a “unique mix” of housing options for low- and middle-income families, Netz said, as well as University support staff.

Alan Arthur, president and CEO of Aeon, said creating affordable housing in Prospect Park “made sense.”

Prospect Park was a sensible location for Aeon’s new apartment, he said. The building is near a light rail station — connecting residents to jobs in two downtown areas.

Netz said residents have backed the neighborhood’s affordable housing push.

Seventeen percent of current and planned housing in Towerside is affordable units, Netz said, adding that they hope for more.

Klimek said affordable housing is included in the neighborhood’s pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“We think if they want to work on building community and working with people … that affordable housing would be a critical piece of that,” Klimek said.

Arthur, who also serves as chair of Towerside’s board of directors, said the district’s developments will address future problems.

“Our goal here with Towerside is to create tomorrow’s community, not based on the old paradigms of yesterday and today,” Arthur said.

Dick Gilyard, a member of Towerside’s board of directors, said TID will consider district-wide impacts rather than ‘site-by-site’ impacts as the the area continues to grow.

District-wide development involves extending green space throughout the neighborhood and combining living, working and learning spaces, Gilyard said.

“There’s a creative way to do this, and we want this to be a rich mix,” he said. “This can’t be … just high-end housing — we don’t want that.”

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